Dinner on the Patio

I enjoy dinner on the patio during early summer days. Typically it isn’t overly hot here in the Midwest, and the mosquitos are not out in full force.  Whether you’re on your patio, around a pool, or looking out over your backyard garden (from inside air-conditioned comfort), I hope you’ll try these  refreshing recipes.

Grilled Chicken Cucumber Salad uses six simple ingredients. You grill the marinated chicken, along with apple slices, and serve over a mixture of salad greens and fresh cucumber. It’s simple, flavorful, and delicious!

Then, finish up the meal with a classic Strawberry Shortcake. I love visiting a local berry patch this time of year and picking strawberries to enjoy in this recipe. Add blueberries to this recipe for a patriotic twist that works well for the upcoming 4th of July holiday.

Grilled Chicken Cucumber Salad


“I often increase this quick and light yet nourishing grilled salad to serve company,” notes Patricia Vatta of Norwood, Ontario.

2 Servings      Prep: 25 min.      Grill: 15 min.


1/2 cup cucumber ranch salad dressing

1/4 teaspoon dill weed

2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)

1 medium apple, cored and cut into 1/4-inch rings

2 cups mixed salad greens

1-1/4 cups sliced cucumber


In a small bowl, combine salad dressing and dill. Pour 1/4 cup into a large resealable plastic bag; add chicken. Seal bag and turn to coat; refrigerate for 20 minutes. Refrigerate remaining dressing.

Drain and discard marinade. Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack. Grill chicken, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from the heat for 6 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 170°. Keep warm.

Brush 1 tablespoon dressing over apple rings; grill for 1 minute on each side. Divide salad greens and cucumber between two serving plates. Slice chicken; arrange chicken and apple rings over greens. Serve with remaining dressing. Yield: 2 servings.

Nutritional Facts: 1 serving (prepared with reduced-fat ranch dressing) equals 356 calories, 15 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 107 mg cholesterol, 551 mg sodium, 19 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 36 g protein.

Strawberry Shortcake


In our farmhouse kitchen, I grew up helping my mom make soup and pies. My husband’s a doctor, and we live on a “hobby farm” here in the Skagit Valley. Through the years, we’ve raised everything from turkeys to horses. Right now, there are steers in the pasture. Larry and I have four children. The eldest was married last summer…the youngest is finishing kindergarten!

9 Servings      Prep: 25 min.      Bake: 20 min.


2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup shortening

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup milk

Whipped cream

1-1/2 quarts fresh or frozen strawberries, sliced


In a bowl, cream sugar and shortening. Add egg and vanilla; beat  well. Combine dry ingredients and add alternately with milk to the creamed mixture. Spread in a greased 9-in. square baking pan. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Cut into nine servings. Split each serving horizontally and fill with whipped cream and strawberries. Replace top of cake; garnish with more berries and a dollop of whipped cream. Serve immediately.

Yield: 9 servings.


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